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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

You Still Have a Choice

Published October 10, 2009 7:07 PM by Glen McDaniel

Just over 2 months ago I wrote a blog discussing the NCA-ASCP merger. The blog elicited a lot of responses both directly on this site and through personal email. One nagging question has been the role of AMT in all of this. Some AMT certificants worried that they would become the forgotten step children. Would employers even start specifying "certification  by ASCP only" ?

However, the leadership of AMT decided  that they would not take the threat lying down. In fact they have turned the challenge into a new marketing campaign. The October 5 print edition of ADVANCE has a full page ad by AMT.  Across the page the words ASCP, NCA and AMT are written in big letters, with "NCA" significantly crossed through. It is subtitled "You Still Have a Choice."  The ad states that NCA is going out of business and "is being reabsorbed into the certification program of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)."

It goes on to tout freedom of choice as a fundamental American liberty and states that AMT in fact espouses the NCA founding principles-a certification for the laboratory profession that is peer based, a program by, of and for the non physician clinical laboratorian.

They also offer a "special" whereby NCA certificants can join the fold of AMT. Interesting twist. Will this marketing ploy work or will most NCA certificants either decide to keep using their current certification, or adopt the new ASCP credential?


What do you think?




Ynes basically hit all the point I would have covered, but I also want to add that I personally cannot join AMT (or AAB for that matter) as not only do I feel that multiple certifications is simply ridiculous but I also have certain stances (like the importance of laboratory personnel licensure and also for MLS to be a bachelors level certification) that I know AMT (and AAB) have opposite views, so not only would it be redundant, but they don’t represent me.

Timothy, MLS December 24, 2009 3:50 PM
Minneapolis MN

I went to my friend who belongs to AMT and receives the AMT magazine Glen mentioned.  I read the article by Mr Christopher Damon Executive Director of AMT. He is much more critical than you can imagine.

My question to him is When did AMT become so friendly with NCA? Since when did they compliment NCA and claim they stand for the same thing? I recall AMT  bashing NCA and others that required a bachelor's degree for med techs. Now that  it suits him he is all about how AMT and NCA stand for the same thing.

This is a 100% business move. It is just a way to win over NCA members with  a free "introductory offer" then charge them out the wazoo next year.  A  question to those who consider moving to AMT. Would you apply for a job using  the less known and lessrecognized MT (AMT)? If you chose to use your CLS

(NCA)  to apply for  a job,  then why have you joined AMT?

I  was certified by ASCP but I belong to ASCLS because I feel they are  one organization truly represent us. They represent and fight for the profession. I am mad that ASCP pulled a stunt like this and shocked at NCA for falling for it. But it's done. It's better for people to try to unite into one strong agency instead of running off to AMT.

I people though ASCP was strong, then the new ASCP (BPC_ will be twice as  strong, twicw as recognized. From that we as med techs/CLS/MLS or whatever can  seek more recognition .

Ynes Barrios MT(ASCP) October 21, 2009 12:27 PM
Queens NY

Thanks to everyone for the spirited discussion. It seems that the consensus is that most people want "certification of the profession by the profession."  Most see ASCP as a physician organization that "also certifies" non-physician laboratorians. That is not their main focus, or an area where they necessarily want to see progress and independence or autonomy.

While AMT members advocate for their organization, others think a mass exodus to AMT to send a message to ASCP is not the answer. What is the alternative? It might well be working within the new reality to express the firm demand to accept nothing less than certification of the profession by laboratorians.

With so many pathologists on the new ASCP-BOC, maybe the bylaws could state that the chair must be  a nonphysician to balance the power.

As I have pointed out several times and Jim agrees no other profession is dominated and controlled by an outside profession.

Stephanie, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your job. You have indicated great resilience and the ability to come up with innovative, bold ideas on this blog. I wish you well, and just know that you will be back in the saddle again soon!

Glen McDaniel October 18, 2009 11:57 AM
Atlanta GA

On the lighter side..... "ocassion" should be spelled "occasion" 2 c, 1 s. See I thought I'm good at spellling! I know, nobody really cares about spelling! Goodness gracious it's gonna be freezing here this weekend- that is why I left Canada! Sorry Glen......LOL!

Efren Ventura, MT (AMT), RT ( CSMLS ), RMT ( PAMET ) October 14, 2009 11:00 PM


1.) That people will quit being so divisive and being so blinded about this certification brouhaha.( Everyone have their own valid reason why they choose a particular certifying body and we should respect that. ASCP certification wasn't available during my time ( ASCP International Certification just started few years ago) but I have 3 non-ASCP certification but I never feel nor my co-workers let me feel that I'm less than them. If that time comes that no other certification will be accepted I have no qualms and problem whatsoever taking an exam even though I graduated 20 years ago. It just so happen that we have those choices. And to those bloggers that belittle Philippine graduates? SHAME ON YOU! Unlike here in the US, everybody is accepted to attend Medical Technology School, not so in the Philippines. Our didactic professors are all MD's and the technologists does the lab part because doctors doesn't know lab testing and procedures. We are at par with everybody else and we use American Textbooks too! We might not have the twang and just keep quiet in a corner, but it's because we give you the opportunity to shine in your own turf but we can easily rise up to the challenges of the ocassion, where and whenever we are needed. We have lengthy deliberations and stringent academic requirements to get into our internship programme. I didn't have a life when I did my MedTech school that after my national exam I literally puke seeing another book. That is why I'm not a big fan of the MLT program but hey I met some MLT's that are just as good as MT's and a few that are even better technically- so we can take that as well as an individual merit just as we measure the same yard stick with an MT, and to add to this, these are MLT's with varied certifications. Another thing, we are not paid less  than our US counterpart either . The Department of Labor and Statistics during an immigration process are pretty watchful against fraudulent and abusive labor practices. These are smart, hardworking individuals and are very good at spelling! LOL! And here's a personal fact, I am paid more than an ASCP certified technologist with more number of years (me for 20years now) of experience because I was badly needed that time. They been looking for months to fill that position and with my other second full-time job, they been posting it everywhere for over a year. That's why they all love me here for (as far as I know. HA!) being in the right place at that right time. Did 2 full-time job for 5 years. Quit the other full time for 2-years so that somebody can have work. Went part time with the other so that somebody can have work. Two years after, got called and offered a section head position- declined it- more work few dollars difference as a bench tech. Went back instead as a part-timer. Now back with one full-time job and another part-time. Extra bucks is not bad and they still love me. May sound confusing. Got duped with a position because I am not a US citizen in which I happily and fully understand but still some other places still need me. LOL! So, not to get side-track with the issue, discrimination is still at the heart of this certification ballyhoo. We can not gain respect from the outside world if we don't respect our very own. What goes around, comes around, you guys say that. Some other people call it Karma! It's just so sad people still deliberately choose to live in the dark ages.

2.) That being proactive should start at a grassroot level. ( I got really MAD twice at work, not for a personal vested interest. People realized that there was a truth behind my cause- which is a long story but then everybody got fired-up and got encouraged to speak out. We added an extra phlebotomist on our shift and we get 2 raises in a year because I told the HR people right to their face( when all of us had that big meeting) that the people here are too smart to be overworked but underpaid and I never care if they will send me back to the jungle where I came from and then, we have a major lab renovation which has been turned into deaf ears for so many years. Respect begets respect- I just want to repeat that! Yes, I will still continue to attend our State conferences or maybe the national but I don't expect too much. This is a lost cause and pity-partying is not in my vocabulary but I will still stay educated for the sake of my patient's and that is my purpose in coming here to your country and the fringe benefits is just a kicker and pays the bills! LOL! Hopefully I can do travelling if a really good deal calls for it otherwise, I'll just stay here in my fabulous little world to continue saving lives as what my fellow colleague sagaciously puts it.

Hmmmmm.....let me think if I miss something....maybe I'll just post another one some other time.

And oh one very last and the very MOST important thing. I'm a registered and a certified Medical Laboratory Technologist in the Philippines, in Canada ( worked there for almost 5years doing 2-full time job in a trauma center's Hematology department and a Microbiology Reference Lab- Canada rocks!) and a PROUD holder of an AMT certification. This is intended for the curious.......


 In 2-5 years from now 4-Medical Technologists will retire in our lab and 1 Technologist  will be moving to get close to her family up on the Sierra's and across the street I was told at least a couple is gonna be retiring soon too. So, if you are already tired with that big city life and for once in your lifetime wants to experience the best of this part of this countryside, hey come on over! We have the State Penitentiary here and an Ammunition Plant as your clue and now am scaring y'all!  ( Hope nobody is dozing-off reading this response! LOL!)

Efren Ventura, RT ( CSMLS ), RMT ( PAMET ) October 14, 2009 10:37 PM

continuation.......IMOHO though, a Medical Technologist  is a Medical Technologist through and through. Give that person a chance, provide them the materials-whatever it is, that person will learn in no time. As what I've said a long time ago, I still have to meet a dumb technologist. It's either somebody is just plain lazy to care to advance their career or the super achiever or maybe some in-between (ers )- the undecided. With all the chaos and confusion about the profession - in which majority of the people is still in denial that it ever exist - I finally have that resolved that nothing is ever gonna change UNLESS we let loose independently with the pathologist as a collective body of professionals. If ever NCA was the brainchild of the merger, they should have reach AMT, HEW and AAB first, assuming there is a success on that effort, then, that will be the time to share the vision to ASCP. If they will not coordinate, the "newly" formed merger can start sharing the vision and issue a challenge to the Medical Technologist with the ASCP membership to join the new group. I thought that will be the best way to detach with the organization gradually and finally with the pathologists. I might be wrong but I overheard in my workplaces that some technologists are not paying anymore their membership dues because the organization is not doing anything anyhow to make the plight better or improved. Frankly speaking I regret entering into this profession because I know I can offer and do much better but at the same token, you very well know that there are some techs ahead of you in the ladder that are not keen to changes for the better but still being forever stuck with archaic ideas. Yes, it's true it's been done for years, yes, it produces result but why settle for mediocrity when something could've been done better. Hopefully the merger will do something but I doubt it , but as what I've said it could have been done in a better way sans the politics. What is only left to keep me going with this profession is the sense of helping a patient make their life better be it indirectly! Just work hard and give your best. Would the hard work translate to a pecuniary reward? Slim of a chance. We love so much our work or we don't want to move somewhere and start all over again, that we can easily be taken advantage of by our employer and even our very own laboratory directors. ( to be continued.... my wish list...)%0d%0a

Efren Ventura, RT ( CSMLS ), RMT ( PAMET ) October 14, 2009 6:03 PM

I take pride in my profession and same with what I do. I educate people and provide information on curious acquaintances on what the profession entails, and almost everytime, people get awed that the word "scientist" befits who we are and not just a pretentious title. In fact, quite a few Nurses, co-workers and others in our hospital (I'm not blowing my own horn here) has to ask specifically for me for various laboratory issues, ideas, answers and informations. Do I take this to compare that my certification is better than the other? NO, not at all! That makes me feel so unprofessional with that kind of mindset, nonetheless, I'm just honored to be a part of a team that are inherently dedicated for the welfare of those patient's that we served. It's so laughable, bordering to ignorance when you can read a comment saying that somebody is not impressed working with somebody because they don't have the "ASCP" certification. Honestly, the feeling is mutual. So sad people still don't understand that every medical technology graduate has the sufficient base-knowledge to function independently in a workplace. To further on your basic knowledge is an individual  responsibility and it has nothing to do with certification. I still read books, publications, journals as everyone does to stay abreast with the advances of the field of which some of my co-workers can just frown about. To make much more sense of this, I am a baccalaureate graduate from the Philippines and it don't make sense to me people having a problem with your medical technology graduate being educated here in the US. I bet you guys are using the same curricula but then the certification is suddenly become a problem? I know for one in my area that they laugh if you graduate from a certain nursing school but never heard them making a big deal of a certification? ( to be continued.....)

Efren Ventura, RT (CSMLS), RMT (PAMET) October 14, 2009 1:53 PM

Well, that saying "if at first you do not succeed, try again" exists for a very good reason, I think.  Not long after Glen posted his "You Are Paid What You Are Worth" topic, I printed it and posted it on our lab's bulletin board.  One of my colleagues wrote a short reply at the bottom: "We try to solve problems, but no one listens." Problems may not get fixed immediately after I bring them up, but I just keep mentioning on a regular basis that such-and-such problem interferes with the efficiency/quality of the work in our lab - and eventually they ARE rectified, at least in my experience.

As long as us medical laboratory scientists keep feeling sorry for ourselves about being compensated at such a low rate, being "under physicians' thumbs," etc., that negativity prevents us from speaking out for ourselves and communicating the importance of the hard work we do in patient care to not only other health care professionals, but those in the general public.

This morning I visited the post office; while waiting for the cashier's computer system to come up, I explained that I had just finished working all night in a hospital lab, running tests on tubes of blood collected from patients and providing information their doctors use to find out what's making them sick and treat them.  It's as simple as that! As talkative as I somehow was that morning, I also remarked that our work is not nearly as recognized and understood as that of nurses, PAs, physical therapists, or pharmacists.  I told him I understood that he can't control how fast the cash register's system comes up any more than I can control problems that happen with our lab's machines (i.e. recurring negative anion gaps, our Beckman Coulter DataLink "not responding" at 2:30 AM, etc. LOL!

If more of us realize how important COMMUNICATION about the vitality of our jobs to health care is, maybe the "status quo" of people my age constantly leaving an intellectually rewarding field simply in order to "make more money" will no longer exist by the time I've reached the age of most of my colleagues.  I choose to have a positive attitude and believe with all my heart that it WILL happen before I retire!

Stephanie Mathis, MLS(ASCP), Generalist - Medical Laboratory Scientist, Danville Regional Medical Center October 13, 2009 11:53 PM
Danville VA

Hopeless! Business is the name of the game. Unity! WHAT? Morale! WHO? Ain't gonna happen! Tried here but nobody cares! What a pity!

Efren Ventura, Medical Laboratory Technologist ( CSMLS ) October 13, 2009 4:22 PM

It would be so easy for AMT, the little guy, to play dead and go away. Instead they have come out fighting like Rocky. They might get some members, but they will never be the organization of choice. EVER!

We have a crazy licensure in New York State, so I am not saying it's all good,  but I think it is wise of New York and other states not to accept every Tom, Dick and Harry. That is why they dont recognize AMT. Better to accept the well known NCA and ASCP rather than force  people to sit another state exam.

To Richard, licensure is not the problem. Look at the sad state of our profession, but only a few state have licensure. Then look at nursing where all 50 states have licensure. Nursing is so much more recognized. So licensure is NOT the casue of our problem.s In fact we would be better off if more states required a CLS/MT license. Then every Tom, Dick and Harry, every nurse, every respiratory therapist wouldnt be allowed to compete with us and perform lab tests. We cant just do nursing, can we?

I think we as laboratorians need to grow some &*^%  ( you know what) and take our profession from the pathologists. Stand up and tell everyone who will listen that MOST pathologists know very little about lab tests.

 They use their MD title to club people over the head. They sign stuff and make rules.  But the real brains in today's lab are the CLS/MT. That's a plain indisputable fact.

We need to speak up and stop complaining. And joining AMT is not the answer.

Maria M. MT (ASCP), CLS (NCA) October 12, 2009 10:21 PM
Brooklyn NY

I want a certification that is run by the LABORATORIAN. Not Pathologist. I also want ONE certification that is recognized for the CLINICAL LAB SCIENTIST.

This is the problem with the lab, you have TOO MANY CERTIFICATION, no UNITY withing the LAB. Other anciallary profession have ONE certification that is run by their OWN PROFEESION, NOT THE MD.


Pharmacy: Naplex (can be recpricated state to state) run by pharmacist no MD's

Nursing RN: NCCLEX (can be recpricated state to state) run by RNs, not MD

Rad Tech (AART) (can be recipriated state to state) run by Rad techs no MD

Lab (ASCP, NCA (merged with ascp), AMT, AAB and many more)

run by MD's, lowest salary among all the ancillary professions.

I would support the AMT but the certification is NOT RECOGNIZED in New York and California, since the ASCP is recognized in ALL 50 states, they have the advantage.

I hope with the DCLS program that will be starting, the new graduates will create standards for the CLS profession and take it out of the hands of the MD's, b/c there is NO VOICE for us.

All the students from my CLS class are leaving the profession for PA, PT, OT, pharmacy, this will forever be a STEPPING STONE, unless we control our OWN PROFESSION.

Jim MT (ASCP) October 12, 2009 9:28 PM

The merger does nothing to remedy the shortage of medical clinical laboratory personnel. AMT is an organization for the non-physician up and coming laboratorians & already established non-physician laboratorians. We need AMT because AMT is doing more to try and remedy the shortage of medical clinical laboratory personnel. AMT keeps up with the standards and technologies of modern medical clinical laboratory science. AMT's routes to obtaining certification are much fairer than the ASCP. AMT supports hiring & training of entry level certified mlt's & MT's. This is the exact philosophy that's needed to remedy the shortage of medical clinical laboratory personnel. In essence, AMT represents hope for up & coming non-physician medical clinical laboratorians. AMT’s mlt & MT certifications should satisfy the total licensure requirement of any state and not just be a prerequisite for licensure. Let’s fight to get the state licensure boards out of the "business" of medical clinical laboratory licensure and let AMT cover the total jurisdiction of medical clinical laboratory licensure.

State licensure boards only contribute to the shortage of medical clinical laboratory personnel. Such boards consist of technologist & technicians who create unnecessary education & experience criteria for the up and coming laboratorians. Their fees are unaffordable unnecessary and ridiculous. They’re not looking for ways to dampen the shortage of medical clinical laboratory personnel. Instead, they are frustrating and deterring ambitious certified applicants with their unnecessary high fees education/experience requirements. AMT’s education & experience criteria for certification are more than adequate. We just don’t need these state licensure boards. I believe that they contribute the most towards the shortage in medical clinical laboratory personnel shortage.

Richard Covington, Clinical Laboratory - Medical Lab Technician, Unemployed October 11, 2009 4:48 PM
Miami FL

This is a clever campaign  but it wont work. I think most NCA individuals will keep their CLS/CLT or they will recertify with ASCP and go that way.

Running over to AMT to prove a point is stupid. AMT has always been the "aslo ran" of certifications. Even those of us unhappy with NCA giving up their power to ASCP will most likely go along with the merger. I will probably go the MLS(ASCP) route. I suspect in time employers will catch on and ask for ASCP. It seems going with AMT would be going even further backwards.

The best AMT can hope for is that with the shortage of laboratorians, AMT certificate will be accepted, but only by SOME employers for a while. Sorry, just my feeling.

Teresa B. CLS (NCA) October 11, 2009 3:36 PM
Boston MA

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